Council finds funds to ease short-term future fears for Fife third sector groups

Third-sector organisations at risk of losing lifeline funding from Fife Council could be in line for a short-term reprieve after a planned cash cut was reversed for the coming year.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 6:01 pm

As revealed by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in January, Fife's children and families division is stripping 19 non-profits of annual funding from April to save £410,000.

However, the council administration has found now found money in its surplus to plug that gap in the short-term, under its new budget arrangements agreed last week.

Kathy Henwood, head of education and children's services, said: “Last week’s budget decision means we can reinvest the previously agreed saving of £410,000 into our third sector commissioned services.

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“This is a very welcome opportunity to support the programme of improvement and make sure commissioned services enhance and add value to vulnerable children, young people and families in Fife.

“We will be continuing work already underway, engaging with organisations who are subject to six months transitional funding to assess whether current service models can be re-aligned to the requirements of the new service briefs."

Under what they called a "recommissioning" scheme, authority bosses redrew the criteria that decided whether charities qualified for funding in 2019, eventually enacting the scheme in January.

Those who could not tailor their services to fit the new briefs were told to find funding elsewhere after a six-month transition period that starts next month.

Short term reprieve for third sector organisations which faced funding cuts

Third-sector bodies, while afraid to publicly decry the recommissioning process, have privately criticised it as opaque and say the new criteria are too narrow in scope.

The move disproportionately affects family-oriented services such as Couples Counselling Fife and branches of help-at-home charity Home-Start.

The council is aware of the effects the cut will have on local charities.

A briefing note circulated last month noted that efforts were ongoing to find alternate sources of funding in other departments or external groups.

It concluded: "We recognise this a very difficult time for third sector organisations involved."

Ms Henwood added that while the funding gap has been plugged for 12 months, the planned recommissioning scheme will proceed as planned, with the cash boost enabling a "smoother transition.”

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